Choceur Milk Chocolate Almond Clusters

I found these Choceur Milk Chocolate Almond Clusters at Aldi. I almost didn’t buy them because they didn’t sound that exciting. That is, until I took a closer look and saw the fine print: “almond and gingerbread pieces with milk chocolate.”

Now that sounds exciting! Oh yeah; they’re also supposed to be “deliciously crunchy.”

I love baking with ginger – gingerbread, ginger snaps, ginger in pumpkin desserts, etc. – so the inclusion of gingerbread pieces in this really attracted me.

Each piece was a bumpy, thumb-sized log. They have a crumbly cookie center, sweet milk chocolate coating, and lots of tiny chopped almond bumpies.

It smelled and tasted strongly of nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon. Surprisingly enough, I didn’t get too much ginger flavor. The milk chocolate coating was pretty sweet – too sweet, in fact – and it may have covered up some of the more subtle spices.

The gingerbread added a nice, crumbly cookie crunch to it, and there was a bit of nuttiness from the added almonds. I love the textural contrast between the cookie bits that disintegrated in my mouth and the tiny chopped almond pieces that needed a bit of chomping.

I adore the idea of the spices with the cookie crunch and the chocolate coating, but the execution was just waaaay too sweet. Even though the pieces were pretty small, the cloying sweetness made it difficult to finish even one.

It should be telling that I put these out at work a week ago, and they’re still there. An . Maybe a dark version could be better?


The U-NO was another chocolate bar in my free sample box from Munchies Sweets and Treats. I had been excited about tasting it because I’d never had one before, and I had no idea what would be inside. The shiny silver wrapper touted “rich creamy chocolate,” but it didn’t have the heft of a solid chocolate bar. What could be inside?

I wish I had let that remain a mystery. For starters, my bar looked like an unappetizing wreck when I opened it. Instead of a shiny, glossy, chocolate-covered something, it was cracked and flaking, and much of it stuck to the inside of the wrapper.

I don’t think that was Munchies’ fault; Annabelle’s, which made this, also makes the Rocky Road, which is known to suffer from lack of adequate packaging.

I snuck a piece of this while I was photographing it. I remember it being AWFUL. Greasy and strangely overly fruity.  I had to really psych myself up just to take another nibble for the purposes of this review – I made sure it was miniscule – and yup, still greasy and strangely fruity. Somewhere in there is a nice malty chocolate note, but the U-No is beyond redemption.

It does have a fascinating texture. It’s like someone stuck chocolate in a food processor, added a ton of hydrogenated vegetable oils, pulsed it into a super-fine-grained paste, and formed it into a log. You can almost feel the little fat globules suspended in the bar.

One tiny 1.5 oz bar has 11 grams of saturated fat. To put that in perspective, that’s 57% of the recommended daily allowance for someone on a 2000 calorie diet. The remainder of the bar went straight in the trash, still in the Ziploc bag that I had been keeping it in since I’d first unwrapped it for photographing. I think that’s the candy equivalent of chucking a full Tupperware container because whatever’s gone bad inside is so horrible that you can’t bring yourself to open it and wash it out.

It’s too worthy to inflict on another human being. Pardon the obvious pun, but the U-No is a huge no-no – if anyone ever offers you one, you should scream “No! No!” and run away. Even thinking about eating it makes me nauseated.

Rock Candy Crystals

Before we begin, I must warn you – today’s post is sort of a cop-out. Ya see, a box of free samples arrived from Munchies Sweets and Treats right in the midst of a gloomy patch of Rochester weather. I rely on direct sunlight to take my photos, so lack of sunlight means lack of new photos (if anyone wants to buy me a special lamp so that I can take nicely lit photos indoors – my birthday was two weeks ago, and you forgot it! – I certainly won’t stop you!).

Saturday was actually pretty sunny, but I’d brought the most interesting of the Munchies shipment to work (I get better access to direct sunlight there, especially since I’m at work during the bulk of the sunlit part of the day), leaving me with some less interesting stuff to shoot at home. Like these Rock Candy Crystals.

As the box says, they’re pure cane sugar. Thus, not that interesting to review. But I didn’t want to leave Munchies Sweets and Treats hanging for too long, so they get this half-review to make up for having to wait extra weeks for real reviews (they also sent some Zero, U-No, and Zagnut bars, none of which I’ve had before and all of which I’m itching to review).

The Rock Candy Crystals are just plain, crystallized cane sugar, like rock candy without any added color or flavor. They taste like, you guessed it, plain sugar. The pretty pebble-sized crystals have a light, cleanly-cleaving crunch and… well, that’s about all I can think of to say about these.

I’m not sure why these warrant being made as a candy, as you could get the same effect by eating straight white sugar or sugar cubes. My parents buy a larger-chunked version of these for cooking with (they go well in slow braising, as they slowly melt throughout the cooking period). But as a packaged candy?

I’m not sure what the target audience is – I can’t imagine any parent being willing to literally feed their kids straight sugar – or why these even exist as a candy. Maybe back in the Little House on the Prairie days, these were a special treat, but today, they just have the dubious distinction of being even more boring than rock candy. They get a baffled from me.

Reese’s Whipps

This Reese’s Whipps bar had been sitting around my stash for a while. I bought it ages ago when it was new-ish and on sale at Walgreen’s, but I never dug in earlier because I wasn’t that excited about it.

The wrapper calls it “light and fluffy peanut butter flavored nougat.” It’s actually peanut butter flavored nougat, surrounded by a thin layer of peanut butter, all covered by a chocolate coating.

I didn’t find the nougat to be at all fluffy. I found it pretty dense and chewy, completely unlike the truly fluffy nougat of a 3 Musketeers bar.

The bar was a total sugar bomb. It tasted mostly of sweet, with some strong nuttiness coming from the peanut butter layer. The chocolate was totally overwhelmed by the sweetness of the whole thing.

I found the bar to be overwhelming overall. Too, too, too much. A .

Haribo TropiFrutti

I bought these Haribo TropiFrutti somewhere in Spain. I saw them in lots of shops in Europe, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen them in the U.S.

The texture of these really sets them apart. They have this weird shell that’s hard to the touch and sort of tough to chew. It reminds me of the crust that forms on chewy candy that’s been left out to dry up. The gummi inside is soft, and when they TropiFrutti are eaten, they textures mix together.

They come in six colors and a variety of shapes – fruit shapes plus toucans and palm trees. We’ll start at the top of the photo and work our way down.

Banana is yellow. I don’t particularly like banana flavored candy. The distillation of fresh banana flavor into artificiality just doesn’t appeal to me. This one tasted of sweetness, plus the scent of bananas. It did not appeal to me.

The dark red toucan also came in the shape of a bunch of grapes, so I thought it was grape. But when I tasted it, it carried a raspberry-like seedy bite. I’d guess that it was raspberry, but there’s a picture of a passionfruit on the wrapper, so maybe it’s passionfruit?

The orange wedge tasted mildly orange with a bitter bite. It was weird and soapy/grassy rather than zesty. Yuck.

The white pineapple tasted just like pineapple, with an authentic core-y bite.

The pink strawberry carries a mild berry flavor. I don’t associate strawberries with tropical-ness, but at least it’s not weird tasting.

Last but not least, the palm tree. I think it was kiwi? It had mild grassy notes and a sweet flavor that I identified as kiwi (though maybe only because there was a kiwi on the bag).

All in all, I’m a little conflicted about what rating to assign this. On the one hand, I didn’t enjoy most of the flavors and disliked the texture. On the other hand, I managed to eat most of the bag, though just a few at a time per sitting over the course of a couple of months.

In the end, they get a . I decided it was telling that I couldn’t manage to stomach eating more than a few at a time.

Haribo Fruit Salad

I was carded when I bought this bag of Haribo Fruit Salad. Why was I carded for gummi candy? Because I bought it in the specialty foods section of a liquor store, and apparently you have to be 21 to buy anything in the store, even if it’s just harmless Haribo.

Before we begin, I must apologize for the lack of photos. My friend Cassie and I indulged in these right after I bought them, so the bag got too beat up to be shot. I managed to save enough for a review and at least one photo!

They come in five flavors of gummi. All are soft, with just enough bite to feel it against the teeth but no bounce, and all are covered in granulated sugar.

From the top left, going clockwise:

The white wedge is grapefruit. There’s a zesty citrus bite to it that’s distinctively grapefruit. It adds a little bitter to the sweet that I found quite intriguing.

The red cherry tasted flat. It starts off sweet, then goes into a deep red cherry flavor with just a hint of medicinal tinge.

The orange wedge had a genuine tangerine flavor. Zesty and sweet and just slightly sour. It was great!

I think the yellow circle was lemon. It was sweet and tart, with a bit of floral acidity. The finish was sugary. All in all, it was pretty mild and sweet, which is why I only think it was lemon.

Finally, the green button was lime. It had a zesty grassiness that had a weird bite. I found it off-putting and blech.

I’ve seen these in the bulk bins at Wegmans, and I’d pick out the grapefruit and orange. They get OMs. The lmeon and cherry get Os, and the lime gets a .

Choco Roll Taro

One of my dad’s specialty, cranks-it-out-for-dinner-parties dishes is taro root with chicken. He poaches chicken, uses the resulting stock to cook sliced taro root for hours until it’s buttery and meltingly soft, and mixes in the poached chicken (pulled into thin slivers that disappear into the “melted” taro) along with some chopped scallions. It’s delicious.

So, taro + chicken =  delicious. Taro + chocolate? We’ll see. I bought this box of Choco Roll Taro solely because it was so weird! If you’ve never had it, taro is a root vegetable that’s sort of like an extra starchy, slightly sweet and nutty, purple potato.

Ever thought, “Gee, I like mashed potatoes, but I bet they’d be better with chocolate instead of gravy”? Well, some Asian person thought the equivalent for the taro. From the looks of the purple frosting and cherry covered thing on the box, the Choco Roll Taro might be based off of some pre-existing dessert concoction.

Each individually wrapped Choco Roll Taro is a pink and purple speckled taro root center inside a round wafer roll, all covered in a yellow-y white chocolate. Don’t worry – the purple center isn’t nearly as bright as it looks on the box. In fact, the mottled pink/red flecked center is rather pretty.

The taro center tastes like pasty, extra-starchy mashed potato with a hint of nuttiness and lots of added sweetness. The extra sweet comes through in the finish and ends on a rather fruity note.

The wafer layer is unremarkable: airy, bland, and crisp. It serves its textural and structural purpose well, at least. Finally, the white chocolate outside is kind of greasy and pretty bland. I’m not a white chocolate fan, so I have little experience in picking out flavor notes in white chocolate. It just tasted like regular old sweet white chocolate to me.

All in all, I think I’ll continue to take my taro with chicken rather than chocolate. The flavor combination is just too strange for me to appreciate, and that strangeness overrides any ooh factor that the interplay of paste and crunch and melt could have brought.

I ate half of a roll to taste; the rest of the box disappeared when I moved. I may have given it away back in New Haven, or it could be buried in my candy stash somewhere. Either way, a taste is plenty Choco Roll Taro for me. It gets a no lettered for being harmlessly not tasty.

Sunbelt Sweet & Salty Granola Bar

When I was contacted about getting samples of Sunbelt’s Sweet & Salty granola bars to review on ZOMG, Candy!, I told their PR contact that granola bars were outside the domain of this blog. I did, however, offer to review them on Sugar Savvy, which I also write for. Soon, a generous shipment of 3 boxes (8 bars each) arrived via UPS.

Unfortunately, Sugar Savvy is currently under reconstruction, so I’m bending my rules and publishing the review here after all. I promised them a review, and I won’t renege on that.

Let’s check out the bars’ press release, shall we?

“Each bar combines whole-grain oats and roasted peanuts, with a chocolate coating on the bottom and a stripe on top.”

Compare that with what’s on the box and the bars’ wrappers: “Chewy Peanut Sweet & Salty Granola Bars.”

Notice the difference? The latter never mentions the chocolate (though it does proclaim the bar to be “fudge dipped”). That’s because there are food labeling laws that require a product to contain cocoa butter (in other words, actual chocolate) in order for it to be called chocolate. A quick glance on the Sweet & Salty bars’ ingredients reveals a total lack of any cocoa product. The “chocolate” on the bar is actually made from palm and soybean oil.

Funny how the labeling law doesn’t seem to apply to press releases. Or to putting photos of chocolate on the box, if not the word “chocolate.”

The bar is on the thin side for a chewy granola bar (compared to Quaker or Nature Valley bars), at about 1 cm tall, but is otherwise normally sized at about 4 cm by 9 cm.

The granola part is mostly whole grain oats mixed with crisped rice and the occasional peanut. The texture of the bar is soft and squishy, and it has a soft bite that gives easily. It’s a bit slipperier (yes that’s the correct form; I looked it up) than I expected from a granola bar, but not exactly greasy.

It tastes mostly of salty peanuts against the oaty nuttiness of whole oats. The bar is a good amount of honeyed sweet – enough to be noticeable, but not so much that it’s cloying or feels like you’re eating a candy bar. The non-chocolate sort of comes through as a light chocolatey finish, but just barely, and it tastes too weak, with no cocoa notes to bolster it.

All in all, the bar tastes pretty decent for a granola bar. It’s not revelatory or anything, but I’ve yet to find a granola bar that blows my palate away. But the complete lack of real chocolate is a letdown, and the nutrition stats are pretty rough. Each bar is 190 calories, 9 grams of fat (14% of your recommended daily intake) and 4.5 grams of saturated fat (a whopping 23% of your recommended daily intake). With those numbers, you might as well have a candy bar.

Sorry, Sunbelt. If you’d used real chocolate instead of all that palm oil and soybean oil, the bar would’ve tasted better, and I daresay it may have been healthier as well. With your current formula, however, you get a null score of .

Nestle Quality Street – Part II

The remaining 6 of my Nestle Quality Street reviews, continued from Friday. In case you don’t want to click back, “Nestle’s Quality Street is a variety pack of cheapo chocolates that’s pretty ubiquitous in the UK.” Onward!

Orange Chocolate Crunch (bottom left) is a flat disk of orange flavored chocolate with little crunchy bits throughout. A poor knockoff of a Terry’s Chocolate Orange Segsation, if you will. Orange chocolate can go well when it’s made with care and decent ingredients. This has neither.

The Purple One (first row, 3rd from left) is unlabeled to create a sense of mystery, though an asterisk does warn that it may contain nuts. It turned out to be a milk chocolate shell containing a flowing, nearly liquid caramel and a hazelnutty paste. Creative in composition, at least comparatively, but meh with Quality Street’s cost-cutting execution.

At first thought, Vanilla Fudge (top right corner) sounds oxymoronic, but a quick googling reminds me that fudge need not be chocolate flavored. This piece tasted neither of vanilla nor of chocolate fudge. No good.

The Toffee Finger (second row, far left) is the same sticky, jaw-achingly chewy toffee of the toffee penny, just in stick form and covered in a thin layer of milk chocolate. The finger shape does make eating it a bit more manageable, so points for that, but it loses all of those points because of the terrible, barely-even-qualifies-as-chocolate-ness of the coating.

Toffee Deluxe was highlighted on the box as being new. It’s slightly darker than the other toffees and a bit more buttery, more like the Brach’s Milk Maid style of caramels we’re used to in the states.

And finally, the Orange Creme. Oh the orange cream – a bitter dark chocoalte coating over a white, grainy paste that’s “orange” flavored – never again, the orange cream.

It’s laughable how this assortment has the word “quality” in its name, as it’s anything but. It’s not horrible, spit-it-out chocolate, but it is bad, take-one-bite-and-you’re-done chocolate. The chocolate base of everything is just blah and blech. Save your money and go elsewhere. Nestle’s Quality Street has the dubious distinction of earning my very first rating. Congratulations!

Jim from The Chocolate Mission, on the other hand, rather enjoyed these. Maybe it’s a British thing, as there must be a reason why they’re practically in institution there?

Das Lollipops

I receive press release emails fairly frequently. The one that I got from Das foods was more eye-catching then most. Read for yourself:

“What’s your flava?  Man Bait, Naughty Ginger, Fab-O-Pom or Caramel Me Happy? They may sound like names you’d have if you worked for an “escort” service, but they are not. Instead, they’re the inspired flavors of Das Foods’ chic and unique new brand of delicious lollipops that will launch nationally next week at the All Candy Expo in Chicago, May 19-21.”

I gave these babies a test drive on my drive from New Haven to Rochester. They definitely helped keep me awake with their extreme lollipop flavor novelty. That’s also why the remaining photos are courtesy of Das, as I couldn’t photograph them while on the road. As an added bonus, I tasted them without access to the press release materials (quoted below in italics), so I didn’t know what I was eating while I ate it.

Fab-O-Pom: “A pomegranate and orange lolli that’s good and good for you.  It’s a sweet and tangy fusion of heart-healthy real pomegranate extract and fragrant orange oil with tiny pieces of orange zest.


The lolli is a pale, translucent salmon flecked with bits of brown. It smells strongly of orange. The flavor is deep citrus, like a blood orange, while the finish has a bit of a bite to it, probably due to the pomegranate component. The brown flecks eventually wind up studding the surface as the lolli melts. They taste like bits of fruit leather or candied orange peel. I like this, despite the two air bubbles it contained. An OM.

Caramel Me Happy: “A caramel and lavender lolli made with caramelized cane sugar and indulgent chewy Das Salty Caramel mixed with real lavender extract and tiny crystals of Fleur De Sel sea salt for a trendy, delicious sweet and salty treat.


This smells just like a salted caramel. It’s reminiscent of a deeper, more complex butterscotch candy with burnt sugar notes. The lollipop itself is not perfectly smooth; rather, it’s very finely textured. I enjoy the salted caramel flavor, but I’m a bit thrown by the mismatch between texture and taste. I wish I could chew this lollipop! I’d much rather have a Das salted caramel, so an O.

Naughty Ginger: “A ginger and lemon lolli that’s sweet, tangy and tantalizingly spicy all at once.  Small bits of wickedly spicy candied ginger are complemented by all-natural lemon extract.  And the ginger works double time; it tastes great AND soothes an upset stomach!


Whoo boy is the ginger smell strong! This lolli is super, super gingery and super, super spicy. I got in a few licks, just enough to note the strong ginger flavor with a very light, sweet undertone of lemon, but couldn’t keep eating it because it was just too spicy for me. It left my mouth tingling. I’m a ginger wuss, so this guy wasn’t for me, but I bet ginger enthusiasts would appreciate it. A .

Man Bait: “A maple bacon lolli that’s a fiercely delicious combination of real smoky bacon bits and delicious maple syrup providing an all-at-once savory and sweet sensation.


Like the Naughty Ginger, this lollipop was too much flavor for me to handle. It smells like maple syrup with a hint of meat undertone. That’s pretty much how it tastes as well. It’s pretty sweet from the strong maple sugar flavor, and that plus the smoky meatiness from the bacon bits and the lollipop nature/hard candy texture does not compute in my brain. I felt a bit ill and couldn’t keep eating it. A from me.

Out of all four lollipops, Fab-O-Pom is the only one that I would want to eat again. They are all, however, a fine flavor effort. They taste exactly as promised, and the flavors are strong, vibrant, and concentrated. While the ginger and bacon pops weren’t for me, ginger and bacon enthusiasts would enjoy them, making those the pops a great novelty gift. And at $0.50 a pop (har har), they’re an affordable gift as well.